Years ago a good friend of mine turned me on to the world of estate sales. Considering I love a bargain and have a penchant for vintage items, I took to it like a fish to water. A lot of people seem interested in estate sales, but many have questions, so I thought I’d give you some of my tips and tricks for the estate sale world.
What is an estate sale?
An estate sale is the process of liquidating a person’s assets. Compared to a typical garage or yard sale, there are many more items and cover the full spectrum of household goods. I think that usually garage sales are people cleaning out their homes for a season or of certain items (babies, etc), but estate sales sell all items in the home. Estate sales also charge tax.
Where do you find estate sales?
You might find this hard to believe, but long ago and far away, there were these things called newspapers that had classified ads. That’s still where I look first- the online version. Your local paper online or in print will generally carry notices of estate sales.
Craigslist is also your friend. I simply search for “estate sale” in my local area’s “For Sale” section and you can find them there.
Also, there are businesses that handle estates full time. If you google your city and “estate sale”, you will generally find the website of some businesses that run sales often. Some have e-mail newsletters that you can subscribe to.
- If you’re looking for big ticket, nice items (furniture, antiques), you need to go early. Re-sellers, antique dealers, and the real pros go out early and snatch up items.
- If you ever need kitchen items, go to an estate sale. Cheap and easy. Same for tools, books, linens (although I do not use used linens to sleep on or bathe with). You can really stock up.
- On Sundays (or the last hours/day of the sale), estate sales usually are slashing prices by at least half. They want to get rid of stuff. Granted, the selection is lower, but the prices are drastically lower.
- If you like DIY projects, estate sales give you great materials to work with.
A lot of people find the concept of estate sales creepy. I’ve often heard it called “dead people stuff.” Okay, so here’s my take. One, a lot of estate sales are not actually for deceased people. Many times they’re for people downsizing or moving into assisted living.
Beyond that, I just got over it. I will admit the first couple of months I went, I’d get pretty sad going through peoples’ houses. But then I decided I was giving their items new life, and helping the family out by buying it. Think of it as nouveau recycling!
One of the things I love about estate sales is seeing so many different homes. I’ve been to every pocket of the city I live in and seen homes ranging all styles and neighborhoods.
Also, I feel like it has given me a much healthier perspective on my own belongings. Going through estate sales, it’s hard to not create a narrative about a person by seeing the things they owned. It makes me reflect on the story my belongings tell about my life and reshape them accordingly.
MY FAVORITE FINDS
Vintage jewelry- $4
Steinbeck first edition- $1
Fabric! So much fabric.
Are you an estate sale shopper? If so, what have been your favorite finds?
Want to pin this for later?
Originally published July 13, 2015